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Maker Faire Backer Suspends Operations

Maker Media, which hosts engineering, science and art showcases around the world, laid off its entire workforce amid a drop in corporate sponsorships.

One of the world’s foremost champions of engineers, inventors and at-home tinkerers appears to be on life support amid a desperate push by its supporters to keep it running.

Maker Media, the organizer of the Maker Faire festivals and owner of Make: magazine, suspended operations last week and laid off its staff of 22 people. Dale Dougherty, the company’s founder and CEO, told TechCrunch that maintaining the business was a struggle throughout its 15-year run, particularly as it hosted large events in increasingly expensive cities and faced competition from the wide range of do-it-yourself content available online.

He said a drop in corporate sponsorships for its science and art exhibitions forced his hand this time around.

The company’s websites remained online as of press time, and Dougherty said he hoped forthcoming financing talks would allow Maker to keep its archives, license its dozens of events worldwide and, potentially, re-launch the company in some form.

Dougherty conceded that a print publication and events company doesn’t make for an attractive business model these days, but he said continued public interest in its events and its widespread impact in education could provide a path forward.

Some high-profile fans, meanwhile, hope to save the company before it gets to that point. A crowdfunding campaign has been set up, and Palmer Luckey, the co-founder of virtual reality company Oculus and a self-described Make: reader since its debut issue, expressed an interest in helping to keep it afloat.

For now, Dougherty said the company’s already scheduled events will take place as planned. The World Maker Faire is scheduled for New York in September.

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